Ethical Relativism and Absolute Taboos - Part I

Written by Sam Vaknin

I. Taboos

Taboos regulate our sexual conduct, race relations, political institutions, and economic mechanisms - virtually every realm of our life. According torepparttar 2002 edition ofrepparttar 132501 "Encyclopedia Britannica", taboos are "the prohibition of an action orrepparttar 132502 use of an object based on ritualistic distinctions of them either as being sacred and consecrated or as being dangerous, unclean, and accursed".

Jews are instructed to ritually cleanse themselves after having been in contact with a Torah scroll - or a corpse. This association ofrepparttar 132503 sacred withrepparttar 132504 accursed andrepparttar 132505 holy withrepparttar 132506 depraved isrepparttar 132507 key torepparttar 132508 guilt and sense of danger which accompanyrepparttar 132509 violation of a taboo.

In Polynesia, whererepparttar 132510 term originated, saysrepparttar 132511 Britannica, "taboos could include prohibitions on fishing or picking fruit at certain seasons; food taboos that restrictrepparttar 132512 diet of pregnant women; prohibitions on talking to or touching chiefs or members of other high social classes; taboos on walking or traveling in certain areas, such as forests; and various taboos that function during important life events such as birth, marriage, and death".

Political correctness in all its manifestations – in academe,repparttar 132513 media, and in politics - is a particularly pernicious kind of taboo enforcement. It entails an all-pervasive self-censorship coupled with social sanctions. Considerrepparttar 132514 treatment ofrepparttar 132515 right to life, incest, suicide, and race.

II. Incest

In contemporary thought, incest is invariably associated with child abuse and its horrific, long-lasting, and often irreversible consequences. But incest is far from beingrepparttar 132516 clear-cut or monolithic issue that millennia of taboo imply. Incest with minors is a private - and particularly egregious - case of pedophilia or statutory rape. It should be dealt with forcefully. But incest covers much more besides these criminal acts.

Incest isrepparttar 132517 ethical and legal prohibition to have sex with a related person or to marry him or her - even ifrepparttar 132518 people involved are consenting and fully informed adults. Contrary to popular mythology, banning incest has little to do withrepparttar 132519 fear of genetic diseases. Even genetically unrelated parties (a stepfather and a stepdaughter, for example) can commit incest.

Incest is also forbidden between fictive kin or classificatory kin (that belong torepparttar 132520 same matriline or patriline). In certain societies (such as certain Native American tribes andrepparttar 132521 Chinese) it is sufficient to carryrepparttar 132522 same family name (i.e., to belong torepparttar 132523 same clan) to render a relationship incestuous. Clearly, in these instances, eugenic considerations have little to do with incest.

Moreover,repparttar 132524 use of contraceptives means that incest does not need to result in pregnancy andrepparttar 132525 transmission of genetic material. Inbreeding (endogamous) or straightforward incest isrepparttar 132526 norm in many life forms, even among primates (e.g., chimpanzees). It was also quite common until recently in certain human societies -repparttar 132527 Hindus, for instance, or many Native American tribes, and royal families everywhere. Inrepparttar 132528 Ptolemaic dynasty, blood relatives married routinely. Cleopatra’s first husband was her 13 year old brother, Ptolemy XIII.

Nor isrepparttar 132529 taboo universal. In some societies, incest is mandatory or prohibited, according to one's social class (Bali). In others,repparttar 132530 Royal House started a tradition of incestuous marriages, later emulated byrepparttar 132531 lower classes (Ancient Egypt). The list is long and it serves to demonstraterepparttar 132532 diversity of attitudes towards this most universal practice.

The more primitive and aggressiverepparttar 132533 society,repparttar 132534 more strict and elaboraterepparttar 132535 set of incest prohibitions andrepparttar 132536 fiercerrepparttar 132537 penalties for their violation. The reason may be economic. Incest interferes with rigid algorithms of inheritance in conditions of extreme scarcity (for instance, of land and water) and consequently leads to survival-threatening internecine disputes. Most of humanity is still subject to such a predicament.

Freud said that incest provokes horror because it touches upon our forbidden, ambivalent sexual cravings and aggression towards members of our close family. Westermark held that "familiarity breeds repulsion" and thatrepparttar 132538 incest taboo - rather than counter inbred instincts - simply reflects emotional reality. Both ignoredrepparttar 132539 fact thatrepparttar 132540 incest taboo is learned - not inherent.

We can easily imagine a society where incest is extolled, taught, and practiced - and out-breeding is regarded with horror and revulsion. The incestuous marriages among members ofrepparttar 132541 royal households of Europe were intended to preserverepparttar 132542 familial property and expandrepparttar 132543 clan's territory. They were normative, not aberrant. Marrying an outsider was considered abhorrent.

III. Suicide

Self-sacrifice, avoidable martyrdom, engaging in life risking activities, refusal to prolong one's life through medical treatment, euthanasia, overdosing, and self-destruction that isrepparttar 132544 result of coercion - are all closely related to suicide. They all involve a deliberately self-inflicted death.

Ethical Relativism and Absolute Taboos - Part II

Written by Sam Vaknin

IV. Race

Social Darwinism, sociobiology, and, nowadays, evolutionary psychology are all derided and disparaged because they try to prove that nature - more specifically, our genes - determine our traits, our accomplishments, our behavior patterns, our social status, and, in many ways, our destiny. Our upbringing and our environment change little. They simply select from ingrained libraries embedded in our brain.

Moreover,repparttar discussion of race and race relations is tainted by a history of recurrent ethnocide and genocide and thwarted byrepparttar 132498 dogma of egalitarianism. The (legitimate) question "are all races equal" thus becomes a private case ofrepparttar 132499 (no less legitimate) "are all men equal". To ask "can races co-exist peacefully" is thus to embark onrepparttar 132500 slippery slope to slavery and Auschwitz. These historical echoes andrepparttar 132501 overweening imposition of political correctness prevent any meaningful - let alone scientific - discourse.

The irony is that "race" - or at least race as determined by skin color - is a distinctly unscientific concept, concerned more with appearances (i.e.,repparttar 132502 color of one's skin,repparttar 132503 shape of one's head or hair), common history, and social politics - than with heredity. Most human classificatory traits are not concordant. Different taxonomic criteria conjure up different "races". IQ is a similarly contentious construct, although it is stable and does predict academic achievement effectively.

Thus, racist-sounding claims are as unfounded as claims about racial equality. Still, whilerepparttar 132504 former are treated as an abomination -repparttar 132505 latter are accorded academic respectability and scientific scrutiny.

Consider these two hypotheses:

Thatrepparttar 132506 IQ (or any other measurable trait) of a given race or ethnic group is hereditarily determined (i.e., that skin color and IQ - or another measurable trait - are concordant) and is strongly correlated with certain types of behavior, life accomplishments, and social status. Thatrepparttar 132507 IQ (or any other quantifiable trait) of a given race or "ethnic group" isrepparttar 132508 outcome of social and economic circumstances and even if strongly correlated with behavior patterns, academic or other achievements, and social status - which is disputable - is amenable to "social engineering". Both theories are falsifiable and both deserve serious, unbiased, study. That we choose to ignorerepparttar 132509 first and substantiaterepparttar 132510 second demonstratesrepparttar 132511 pernicious and corrupting effect of political correctness.

Claims ofrepparttar 132512 type "trait A and trait B are concordant" should be investigated by scientists, regardless of how politically incorrect they are. Not so claims ofrepparttar 132513 type "people with trait A are..." or "people with trait A do...". These should be decried as racist tripe.

Thus, medical research showsrepparttar 132514 statement "The traits of being an Ashkenazi Jew (A) and suffering from Tay-Sachs induced idiocy (B) are concordant in 1 of every 2500 cases" is true.

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